Why Does My Cat Sit in Sunny Spots?

RyanJLane/iStock via Getty Images
RyanJLane/iStock via Getty Images / RyanJLane/iStock via Getty Images

Cats never look more majestic than when they're basking in a patch of sunlight. But your cat doesn't curl up beneath your window in the afternoons to feel like a sun god or goddess. (That's just a bonus.) According to Purina, this common feline behavior is an efficient way to regulate body temperature.

Cats run hotter than humans by several degrees. The average body temperature for cats falls between 100.4°F and 102.5°F, compared to our 98.6°F. Maintaining this relatively high temp isn't easy, especially during naptime. When a cat sleeps, its metabolism slows down to conserve energy. This leads to a lower body temperature when they wake up. Instead of generating that extra heat themselves, cats may seek out a sunbeam to do the hard work for them. After a productive sunbathing session, a cat is well-rested and still near its toasty temperature.

The feline members of your household also have a higher tolerance for heat. Our skin starts to feel pain around 113°F, while cats may be comfortable with temperatures as high as 125°F. That's why cats still seek out sunny spots in the summer when we're parked in front of our air conditioners. But no matter how much they love the sun, cats can still overheat. On especially hot days, look out for symptoms of feline heat stroke such as panting, drooling, fast breathing, and vomiting.

Under most circumstances, sunbathing is perfectly healthy cat behavior. You can even set up a cushioned, elevated spot beneath a sunny window in your home to maximize a cat's comfort. Your pet will appreciate your effort, even if they don't show it. Here are more science-backed tips for getting your cat to like you.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.